Cubs: Starting rotation has come completely off the rails in June

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

To say things have not gone quite right for the Chicago Cubs in 2022 is a significant understatement. Things have been abysmal. At last summer’s trade deadline, it became apparent this season would be one players and fans alike would labor through. After all, much of the core was dealt for low-level prospects and the club made minimal effort to come into this season as a contender.

The starting rotation had become a question mark until the club signed free agent Marcus Stroman to a multi-year contract. Stroman has responded with a 5.32 ERA and a low 22.7 strikeout rate through nine starts. Not exactly what the Cubs wanted when they gave him $25 million this season. Oh, and he is on the injured list and isn’t expected to return until July.

Injuries have plagued the Cubs much of the season thus far, and they’ve genuinely adopted the meaning of a starting “rotation.” Up to this point, there have been 11 different guys who have made starts. Instances where Mark Leiter Jr. is making starts in April, go to show the struggles impacting any form of consistency. Things began to turn around as the starting pitching posted a 3.97 ERA in the month of May. However, June has been a different story.

Cubs: An out-of-control train going nowhere for this rotation

Three weeks into June, Chicago has a league-worst 6.49 ERA, including starters and relievers. The starting rotation by itself is still the worst in the league during this stretch, where in 19 starts, they have posted a 6.49 ERA. The next worst is the Baltimore Orioles, with a 5.35 ERA. The discrepancy that exists should tell you all you need to know.

Regarding the strikeouts or lack thereof, the Cubs starters have posted a paltry 17.9 percent rate in that department while walking 10.4 percent of batters. What’s worse is the increase in fly balls and home runs, which, entering Thursday’s finale in Pittsburgh, ranked as the fourth-worst in all of baseball with a 16.8 percent HR/FB rate. If they don’t stop giving up home runs, they will lose 100 games.

The starting pitching also finds itself in the bottom ten in baseball in June, allowing a 40.4 percent hard-hit rate. Simply, it doesn’t matter who faces Cubs starting pitching. They’re probably going to mash them.

The one positive so far this season has seemingly been Wade Miley. The Cubs picked up his option last fall after the Cincinnati Reds waived the veteran lefty. Miley has pitched well in his small four-start sample size. However, that hasn’t meant a whole lot given he’s also been injured the majority of the year.

Ostensibly, last summer’s trade deadline became Pandora’s box for this team and, apropos of nothing, a sign that we are right back in the ‘pre-Theo’ era of Cubs baseball and, unfortunately, need to ride the wave of disappointment. Prospects are fun, but prospects take time, and if the Cubs want to return to contention within the next decade, the development is critical.

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Pitching development is vital as bats can be a dime a dozen, at least more so than arms. There are positive developments in the lower levels with starters, and they need to continue progressing in the right way. At least things can’t get any worse, right?

Matt Swarmer / Chicago Cubs
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